After reading the umpteenth report of refugees complaining about the conditions in Canada and in Europe I decided I was time for me to speak up!
Let me begin by saying there is absolutely no question that I won the Global Citizenship Lottery by being born in Canada. Canada is a nation of unparalleled freedom and opportunity. Limitations are simply not part of the vernacular of a Canadian. Anyone with a voice can be heard. Anyone with a dream can bring that dream to fruition. You just need to be willing to invest some serious sweat equity in your pursuit. When I wrote in my post ‘To Occupy is Not An Occupation’ that all Canadians are essentially the One Percent – I meant it in the very depths of my soul! To the less fortunate in other nations even our poor can claim a lifestyle of which they can only dream. Here we enjoy a peace also unrivalled. Look no further than the gun violence faced by our neighbours in the United States and you can’t really disagree. So I know just how blessed I am to have been born into this great nation!!
My grandmother, a third generation Canadian Mennonite, held firmly to a belief that if you had three coats and your neighbour had none human kindness and common sense dictated that you give away one coat to your neighbour. I was raised to act in accordance with this principle; I’m a better person for it! And it’s true it really is better to give than to receive… As a blessed Canadian I believe it IS our privileged duty to help the weak and suffering in other nations; applying my grandmother’s principle.
However, my dear granny would have a few choice words for a boorish or ungrateful recipient. To those refugees who have recently arrived in Canada I’d like to acquaint you with a couple of very important points of etiquette. First, anything less that an attitude of thanks is nothing short of a complete insult to your gracious hosts.The vast majority of us have worked long and hard to pay for the food, lodging, and other services you enjoy upon arrival in Canada.The money for these benefits to you means someone in making a sacrifice on YOUR behalf. If we are to believe that you are genuinely running for your lives safe lodging alone should overwhelm you with a sense of deep relief and gratitude. Never mind the regular meals, health care and a myriad of social services we are providing; all of which is substantially better than that provided to Canadian Citizens in a state of crisis. If you are in any way ungrateful that tells me your crisis at home is truly not that bad. Someone in truly dire straights, starving, doesn’t complain about the mustard on their ham sandwich. If you came to Canada expecting to walk right into the Canadian standard of living – that privilege comes with years of hard work and great personal cost. My granny had to work hard to have three coats. She worked with bleeding, chapped hands through desolate Canadian Prairie winters. Canada is a land of opportunity – not a yellow brick road to easy street. With ingenuity, discipline and time you may just find yourself making your own dreams comes true!
As your hosts we want to learn more about our guests. There is no greater tradition than storytelling; the exchange of ideas and pastimes. However, as our guests we ask that you respect our traditions and values – our ‘house rules’ so to speak. You can show us your gratitude by learning about us; by honouring our culture, our language, our laws and making them your own. You can show us your gratitude by asking how you can contribute to the nation of Canada rather than just being a recipient of our hospitality! Your gratitude is your attitude. Your attitude tells us that you are not here to take advantage of our resources and peace.
In 1874 when members of my family first arrived in this country they had NOTHING but the clothes on their backs and the freedom to pursue their dreams. Being in Canada meant they were free from the religious persecution they faced in Europe, where their sons would be conscripted as soldiers and sent of to die. They were overwhelmed with a spirit of deep appreciation. This story is not unique. The founding families of the nation of Canada arrived here and endured indescribable hardship, but against all odds they built a prosperous country. If your needs are genuine, I know the majority of true Canadians are more that happy to welcome you and give you their third coat. Be grateful, contribute selflessly, or seek life elsewhere. Gratitude is the only attitude we tolerate in Canada.